My nuclear family, niece, nephew, and I are all lounging in my parents' living room on Christmas evening like a well-fed, lazy pack of dogs. I pluck a small ornament off the tree that my younger brother, Chris, had carefully constructed when he was in first grade. The simple decoration consists of a hard plastic, red, peanut butter jar lid with a school picture of Chris, which he had cut into the shape of an oval and pasted on the interior. Sparkles decorate the outside and a loop of red yarn extends from the top.
I bring the ornament to Chris' son, Tyler, who is about five years old and is reclining on the couch with a video game in his hands. Dangling the ornament near his face, I ask him, "Who is this?"
Tyler pauses a moment, draws the ornament closer for a more thorough inspection, crinkles his brow, hesitates again, then proclaims, "ME!" grinning from ear-to-ear triumphantly.
"Nope," I tell him, "that is your daddy."
I walk into the kitchen and show Tyler's dad, my brother, the same ornament and relay the story. "Really?" says Chris.
"Yes," I say.
Chris smiles thoughtfully to himself and turns back to cleaning his dish in the sink. I return the ornament to its home on the tree and plop down on the couch, with several generations of my family members surrounding me.
Let the new year begin.